A (Diss)Appointment

Apologies for the brief hiatus, I will admit I have not been feeling well over these last few weeks. A combination of disappointment, health related issues and my inability to cope with anything has made for a difficult time, one I am still trying to move on from.

For those of you that has followed the blog for a while, you may be aware that last year I sought professional assistance for my mental health as it had declined rapidly and to dangerous lows I had not felt in a long while. Presently, mental health services are under a massive strain, probably more so since the outbreak of Covid, with a rise of health related anxiety, depression from isolation/loneliness.

With the increases of demand I had to wait longer than usual for my first assessment consultation, completely understandable, I had an appointment that was all that mattered, it gave me hope, I was on the right path to get help.

That is until the date of the appointment came, these consultations are carried out over the phone at present due to the pandemic. I was allocated a time, pre-filled the questionnaire you are given beforehand and just had to wait for the call. The call came…..but not one I had expected. Ten minutes after my consultation time was due to start, I was told my appointment had been cancelled due to lack of staff.

I was told to expect more communication for another appointment and that was that. I was devastated. I know that the person on the other end of the line is not at fault, I know that these services are doing the very best they can sometimes on very little support, but for me personally this was a massive blow. I had geared myself up for this appointment, having to keep myself calm as I knew that I would be going through all the gritty details of my mental health. It completely winded me that it was not going to happen. In my unbalanced mind I blamed myself, perhaps I do not deserve the help.

This is nonsense, I see that now but at the time my anxiety was heightened and the irrational sets in. I hope with the increased need for the mental health services comes a new appreciation for them too. That they receive the funding and support they need to run efficiently.

It did make me wander how a cancellation could effect someone who does have the support of people around them. To sound dramatic, I had held on for my original appointment, when I was feeling particularly low in the back of my head was the reminder I had reached out, I was on the right track. I was lucky when the effect of the cancellation knocked me for six, I had family around me who supported me through it.

A brief suggestion, if you haven’t spoken to someone in a while maybe just check in on them with a message or a call, or if you’ve been feeling despondent/low/unmotivated reach out, I know that is easier said than done, but honestly it could be the difference between feeling low for months or just a few days.

I did receive my consultation recently and am hopefully now on track to be seen by the right people, there may be more waiting but for the moment I feel heard and grateful for the chance to get help.

To end the post on something more positive, although some of you may debate of it is a positive. I got a pet jumping spider, a Phidippus Regius to be exact. A beautiful male I have named Yeti.

As a little girl growing up, if you had told me that as an adult I would have a pet spider I would of definitely thought you were lying. I never had a strong aversion to them like some people do, but equally I did not appreciate them from a young age.

I do sometimes wander if the original lockdown had never occurred would I still have found my love of macro? Would I have thought to research spiders? The answers are probably not, or it would of taken me years to get there. I will always be grateful for coming to macro through the lockdown. It is a firm passion, I get so excited when I find new spiders and mini beasts.

Anyway I digress, back to Yeti, I am absolutely smitten. I did some research about the Phidippus Reguis also known as the regal jumping spider, being the responsible spider owner I am, I’ll share some of what I’ve learnt already.

Jumping spiders when they want to propel themselves, they suddenly change the blood flow in their bodies, increasing the blood flow to special muscles, which fully extends the legs and causes the spider to leap. Apparently some jumping spiders can jump up to 50 x its body length!

Even though jumping spiders don’t make webs to catch prey like the orb weaver family, they do use their web string as bungees, in case they fail a landing after jumping or to make their own hammock to sleep in. These spiders are diurnal (active during the daytime and inactive at night).

Jumping spiders have four sets of eyes, they have some of the best vision among arthropods (an invertebrate with an exoskeleton, a segmented body and jointed appendages). Their field of view is a staggering 360°.

I hope you’ve found these snippets as interesting as I do. I hope in the past couple of weeks you have all been in good spirits and keeping well. Until next time, take care.

Recovery

It is no secret on this blog how much I struggle with my self esteem, in nearly all of my blogs there is the thread of self doubt about what I am displaying. So i’m assuming if I were to write about my anxiety and depression it wouldn’t really be a surprise for anybody to read.

I’ve ummed and arred for ages about whether to include my mental health on previous blog posts, I am scared that it may put people off reading my posts in the future but leaving out that side of myself makes me a bit of a fraud, I want these blogs to be authentic, a genuine expression of my life, how can I truly manage that if I am hiding a huge section of myself?

I have seriously struggled with anxiety and depression for the past 3 years. At its worse I will have frequent panic attacks, be unable to leave the house, I will withdraw from myself and from those around me, I worry constantly over nothing in particular, it causes me to be forgetful, I am constantly filled with guilt, and on more than one occasion I have come extremely close to feeling like I shouldn’t be around at all.

I am so very lucky to have a great support network around me, they have been there through my worst and I will be eternally grateful that they feel I am worth helping. From the close family that have to put up with my bad days, to the friends that check in, just to see how I am doing, these things can make such a difference when you are feeling detached from everything.

From my own experience; I would honestly recommend if you have anyone in your life that struggles with their mental health, a simple message just to say Hi or a phone call to check in could help enormously.

You may now be wandering what does this have to do with a photography journal?

Photography, for me, alongside my support network is one of my saviours, it’s part of my recovery. Photography gives me a reason/ purpose to get out of the house, when in reality all I want to do is hide.

It allows me a creative outlet, being able to try and share how I’ve seen a scene or the atmosphere from what/where I’d been shooting. I enjoy trying to think of new ways of shooting subjects and it pushes me to experiment.

I love how photography gets me to look at the world, it helps me focus on something other than the anxiety/depression (this is more so when I am in recovery, unfortunately not when I am at my lowest ebb, at that point I am unable to focus on anything).

I took a week off from the blog last week because of my anxiety/depression. Self care is so important and I am getting better at allowing myself time to recuperate, to hopefully negate full breakdowns.

I am realistic; I am always going to struggle with my mental health but I want to try and avoid the worst because I’ve been there before and it’s horrendous getting out of it. Like my self esteem, my mental health is going to be something I am constantly working to improve.

Feeling brighter this past weekend, I visited the Weir Garden, Hereford (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-weir-garden). A beautiful stretch alongside the river Wye, this garden/walkway was laden with snowdrops. Thankfully on the day I visited, we were blessed with winter sunshine and bright blue skies. I did have a few issues with getting my exposures right but overall I am happy with the photos I captured.

There is a bird hide at the weir garden, with feeders set out in front of it. The shot I managed to capture of the squirrel from the hide was my favourite from the day. The squirrel was aware I was in the hide but it didn’t scare them off, they were a very accommodating model, for which I am very grateful for.

I recently became a member of the National trust and look forward to visiting more properties similar to the Weir garden.